Damascus – Since October 12, air traffic in areas under the control of the Syrian regime has witnessed turmoil and confusion after the Damascus and Aleppo international airports were repeatedly out of service as a result of repeated Israeli air strikes on them.
Hundreds of Syrian travelers are struggling to find alternative plans to visit their country or to return from there to their countries of residence, in addition to the disruption of the interests of dozens of them as a result of their flights being canceled or their dates postponed after being transferred to Latakia Airport.
On October 22, the Ministry of Transport in the regime’s government announced the redirection of all flights (arrivals and departures) to Latakia Airport following simultaneous raids launched by Israeli occupation army aircraft on Damascus and Aleppo international airports, which led to them being out of service again.
The ministry said, on its Facebook page, that the “blatant Israeli aggression” led to the disruption of passengers’ flights, affairs, businesses, and needs, and called on travelers to “arrange their affairs” with airline companies.
Simultaneously, the Syrian Air Corporation announced the cancellation of Cairo and Kuwait flights, and the transfer of Emirates (Dubai/Sharjah/Abu Dhabi) and Doha (arriving and departing) flights to Latakia International Airport.
Meanwhile, Cham Wings Airlines diverted a number of flights from the Emirates, Iraq, Russia, and Kuwait to Latakia Airport hours after the bombing that occurred on both airports.
Disruption and financial burdens
A number of Syrian travelers were forced to take exceptional measures to return to work and return to their countries of residence, while some of them missed their return dates, which led to the disruption of their work and interests in those countries after Syrian airlines changed flight schedules and canceled a number of them.
Fadel (37 years old), a Syrian engineer residing in Egypt who was visiting his family in Damascus, says, “I had a reservation on the Damascus-Cairo flight last Thursday, but the flight was cancelled, then postponed for a few days, and Syrian Airlines did not specify whether The flight is next Sunday or Monday.”
He added to Al Jazeera Net, “I was scheduled to conduct a job interview at a construction company in Cairo on October 28, and now I do not know if the job is still vacant after I apologized for the appointment and asked to postpone it.”
Meanwhile, Mona (25 years old), a receptionist at a hotel in Baghdad, was forced to book a flight to Baghdad from Beirut Airport (Rafic Hariri International Airport), after the recent departure of Damascus International Airport from service and the postponement of the Damascus-Baghdad flight.
Mona tells Al Jazeera Net, “I traveled to Beirut in a hurry, and I was forced to pay the fare for the car that took me, in addition to the royalties that were paid at the military and security checkpoints on our way, all in order to maintain my job at the hotel, as there are dozens of workers ready to replace me if I am late for work.” “Going back, which means I will be unemployed.”
In addition to the flight ticket to Baghdad, Mona spent about $100 to reach Beirut, including $40 in royalties paid by drivers at checkpoints in regime-controlled areas.
Syrian travelers returning to Syria from land, sea and air ports – since July 2020 – have been forced to convert the amount of $100 into its equivalent in Syrian pounds according to the Central Bank rate, as a measure imposed by the regime’s government on the Syrians under the pretext of “securing a small portion of the country’s foreign currency needs.” “.
For years, Syrian travelers residing in European countries have relied mainly on Beirut Airport to leave and return to Syria, given that no flights are operated from their countries of residence to Syrian airports.
As a result of the recent military escalation taking place on the southern borders of Lebanon Hizb allah And the Israeli occupation, the Lebanese authorities issued a circular yesterday, Saturday, containing guidelines and instructions to evacuate Beirut International Airport and its surrounding facilities.
Before this circular, Syrian travelers feared a repeat of the 2006 war scenario, when the occupation forces targeted the runway of Beirut International Airport, prompting those returning to Syria from European countries to search for other destinations.
Dozens of Syrian travelers coming from Europe headed to Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital, Amman, instead of Beirut International Airport, after some European airlines canceled their flights to Beirut.
Sondos (38 years old), who works in a clothing store in Amsterdam, Netherlands, had planned to visit her elderly mother after her health condition deteriorated over the past few months.
Sondos told Al Jazeera Net, “This is my first visit to the country, 7 years after I sought refuge in the Netherlands and recently obtained citizenship. I succeeded with difficulty in obtaining a vacation from work for 3 weeks, and I booked a round-trip ticket from Beirut airport through the Dutch company Transvia, but they informed me later.” The flight was cancelled, which forced me to transfer my flight reservation from Beirut to Amman.”
Unlike Syrians who do not have the nationalities of other countries, Sondos did not have to apply for permission to enter Jordan from the Jordanian Ministry of Interior, and she will not subsequently have to apply for security approval from the relevant authorities of the Syrian regime before departure, as is the case with most Syrians traveling to Jordan.
However, her complaint was about the high costs of her trip, as she said, “I paid 40 dinars ($56) entry fees to Jordan, and had to spend $100 on the Jordanian-Syrian border, and I agreed with the owner of the taxi that took me from Amman to Damascus and would take me back to Jordan.” “For $100, the trip will cost me about $500 in transportation.”
Among the conditions set by Jordan to receive Syrians residing in European countries who have a foreign travel document (who do not hold the nationality of those countries), last July, was to submit an application for permission to enter Jordan through the electronic services website of the Ministry of Interior, and it will take a decision to decide. The request takes 7 to 10 days, according to the ministry’s website.
Syrian travelers from regime-controlled areas towards Jordan need to obtain security approval issued by the security and military branches, which takes 10 to 15 days to obtain, which doubled their suffering after the two airports were closed.
Israeli planes carried out air strikes simultaneously, targeting Damascus and Aleppo international airports on the 12th and 22nd of October, while Aleppo Airport was subjected to separate raids on the 15th and 25th of this month, which led to it being out of service for the fourth time in two weeks.